Procedure 2-18: Public Relations
The purpose of the San Jacinto College Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs office is to tell the story of our students, employees, alumni, and programs, through multiple communications channels. We provide strategic counsel, creative solutions, and timely, responsive service to internal and external clients.
II. Public Relations Staff Responsibility
The public relations staff has primary responsibility for "coverage" of news and information throughout the College. We want to share the extraordinary story of San Jacinto College and its students, faculty, and staff. Communications coordinators work closely with each campus to produce news items concerning activities, events, students, programs, and employees. The public relations staff is also responsible for sports information to promote the College’s athletic programs.
The Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs department is led by the vice chancellor, marketing, public relations, and government affairs. The public relations staff includes a director, marketing and public relations; senior communications coordinator; communications coordinators; and social media coordinator. The director is responsible for final editing and review of material prepared for release to the news media. The public relations staff handles the distribution of all official College news and photo releases to the media.
The public relations staff works closely with local, state, and national news media, including newspapers, radio and television, magazines, wire services, and Web publishers. The staff also maintains the newsroom content on the College website.
Public relations staff media activities include:
- Reporting, writing, editing, and distributing news releases. These are designed to convey information of news value in a timely manner to the appropriate media.
- Preparation and distribution of news tips and story pitches. These are brief releases designed to suggest story topics and sources for the news media, and to alert them about upcoming events.
- Production of The Watercooler, an online employee newsletter that offers the latest news and events for San Jacinto College employees.
- Personal contacts with local, state, and national news media. These can be initiated by public relations office staff, or in response to inquiries from media.
- Assist with maintenance of the main San Jacinto College website (www.sanjac.edu), and the College’s athletics website (www.sanjacsports.com), that contain a mixture of news, features, an events calendar, search engine, and other links in order to convey the rich history and the stories of our College.
- Arranging news conferences, briefings, or other meetings / interviews with news media as appropriate.
- Monitoring mentions of San Jacinto College in the news media.
- Develop strategies to address changes in the news media industry and the impact of technology on how media is reported.
These public relations procedures have three basic objectives:
- To ensure consistency in communications with news media from all areas of the College.
- To help maintain the high level of credibility the College enjoys in its dealings with the media.
- To protect the reputation of the College, its students, and employees.
The Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs department will always be an honest provider of information to the public. One of the College’s eight values is integrity – acting in ways which instill confidence and trust. Failure to provide accurate information to the public in general -- and specifically to the news media -- could damage the credibility of the College and diminish the effectiveness of the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs department in its relationships with news media.
IV. Event Coverage
News releases for upcoming events are prepared when those events are open to the public, or at least open to news coverage. The only exception to this would be when the event, in the judgment of the vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs, or director, marketing and public relations, is of such overriding importance to the public that an advance release in itself would be news.
As part of the mission of San Jacinto College, our College enriches the life in the communities we serve. In addition to classes for students, San Jacinto College conducts seminars, lectures, and other programs to educate members of the College community and those beyond. Therefore, most events at San Jacinto College should be open to the public. On some occasions, events will not be open to the public because of space limitations or safety concerns. News releases of impending events are designed to spur public interest and participation in those events. It would be counterproductive to advertise an event and then bar news coverage.
San Jacinto College encourages event organizers to open the event to news coverage, even if it may be limited coverage. Television cameras can be prohibited from the event if, in the event organizer’s judgment, they would be disruptive. However, television reporters without cameras or recording equipment should be given access if print reporters receive similar access. There should be no discrimination based on medium. The public relations staff has responsibility for determining whether an event is of such importance that it merits a release even if it is closed to the news media. Event organizers are encouraged to contact the public relations office to discuss news coverage.
San Jacinto College employees and staff are encouraged to provide the public relations staff with three to four weeks advance notice of events. This will allow the public relations staff ample time to research, interview, and disseminate the event information to the news media to garner interest and coverage.
San Jacinto College respects the privacy of students and employees, and follows all appropriate local, state, and federal guidelines and statutes affecting privacy and confidentiality.
The federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 limits the disclosure of information from a student's education records to only basic "directory" facts. A description of all information that can be released as “directory information” under FERPA is outlined in the San Jacinto College catalog. Directory information will be withheld if a student so requests.
Included among information that will not be released outside the College are any data that would selectively advantage or disadvantage individuals with regard to race, creed, color, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, pregnancy, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, genetic information, marital status, or veteran status in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.
VI. Media Information for Employees
In the event of a crisis situation, the vice chancellor, marketing, public relations, and government affairs; or the director, marketing and public relations, will serve as the spokesperson(s) for the College. Employees, must refer all media to the marketing, public relations, and government affairs department, and should not speak directly to media unless instructed to do so. However, there are other opportunities outside of crisis situations for members of the College community, including students, faculty, and staff, to be interviewed “on the record.” Employees must refer all media requests to the director, marketing and public relations; and public relations staff will help you prepare for interactions with reporters.
Reporters are professionals attempting to communicate information in the most interesting and accurate way. Most are general reporters who cover anything that is considered worthy of airtime or newspaper space. Beat reporters, however, are usually assigned to specific subject matter or area.
- Deadlines: Reporters represent the public's right to know and they attempt to be as objective as they can. However, the constant pressure to meet deadlines makes their job extremely difficult. Deadlines force reporters to prepare a story, whether or not they can present both sides. The public relations staff, in conjunction with campus personnel, will do everything possible to attempt to meet a reporter’s deadline.
- Radio: Radio reporters work under tight deadlines. Because they are limited to approximately 30-60 seconds to present their stories on-air, they look to experts for lively voice clips of about 15 seconds, which describe the "bottom line" of what the issue is and why it is relevant.
- Television: Images (also called b-roll) are the essential ingredient for a TV story. Television reporters have limited time in which to present their stories so they simplify information to keep stories to an average length of 90 seconds.
- Print: Print reporters work for daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, and wire services. Often, they want a lot of detail because they do not have the benefit of using visual and audio imagery. They rely on vivid descriptions to communicate their stories. Interviews with print reporters can happen in person or on the phone.
Things for you to know
If a reporter contacts you directly, you are to direct them to the director, marketing and public relations. The public relations staff will then make arrangements for the appropriate staff or students to interview (on the phone or in person), at a mutually agreeable time, and any necessary time on campus. Reporters often are on a tight deadline, but this doesn't mean that you have to carve out time for a full interview immediately. The public relations staff can work out the details with the reporter. By having a member of the public relations staff facilitate the interview, they can also find out what information the reporter is looking for and what information he or she has already gathered, how the information will be used, how much information he or she is requiring, etc., so that you have time to collect your thoughts or finish teaching your class.
Beware of talking "off the record." You can ask that what you say not be used, but even if a reporter agrees, it’s important to know that you might still see the information turn up in print or on-air.
It is important to understand that San Jacinto College public relations staff members will disseminate the news to the media, but that under no circumstance does the media have an obligation to print or air any news releases or briefs. Therefore, there is no guarantee that your story will appear in the local newspapers or on TV, but the San Jacinto College public relations staff will make every effort to get the information to the media.
What’s news worthy?
Not sure whether your news would interest the media? The public relations staff is happy to provide guidance. We're always interested in hearing about:
- Research findings. The media is most interested in your research breakthrough if it will impact or interest the general public. Think about what types of stories are “trendy” (ex: health care, jobs, work force training, STEM). Reporters also pay more attention to peer-reviewed work about to be published in a journal or presented at a conference or government hearing.
- Well-known campus visitors. San Jacinto College often draws well-known individuals to speak at special gatherings including conferences, lectures, and graduation ceremonies. Let us know if you're about to host such a visitor.
- Major announcements. Let the public relations staff know if a faculty member or student has received an important award or recognition from an organization, or if your department has acquired a significant gift or grant.
- Events. The campus calendar is filled with events throughout the year, but certain ones – especially those on newsy or otherwise fascinating topics – would catch a reporter's eye. We can help attract coverage of such events.
- Human-interest stories. Reporters are always interested in a good human-interest story, whether it's about an extraordinary person or project. We're always interested in stories about students and their one-of-a-kind contributions to San Jacinto College and our community.
- Unique new courses. As each new semester is about to begin, the public relations staff looks for unique new courses – whether they're tied to current events, are trendy, or would simply be fun for the public to read about – to pass along to reporters.
An important factor to also consider is the visual that accompanies the story. Television reporters will need what is called b-roll, and a newspaper reporter will need that one image / photograph that will catch a reader’s eye. Subjects will be asked to sign a photo release form for use of their image on the air or in an article.
VII. Crisis Communications
The College has established two basic guidelines for communicating with the media, which should be observed in all situations, especially in crisis situations:
- The vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs; and the director, marketing and public relations, are the authorized spokespersons to disseminate information to the media, unless the Chancellor appoints an alternate designee. In crisis situations, employees should not engage with the media on behalf of San Jacinto College. The designated spokesperson(s) is the point of contact between media and College resources, provides referrals to proper sources of information within the College community, and can provide a consistent message to the media during crisis situations.
- Only factual information is released; no speculation will be offered.
- All personnel are directed to report the status of an emergency situation directly to the crisis management team. Personnel are not to discuss this status with outsiders, especially media, on behalf of the College.
- All contacts from the media must be referred directly to the vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs at 281-998-6151 (office) or 281-733-9386 (mobile); or the director, marketing and public relations at 281-998-6160 (office) or 713-542-7729 (mobile).
- The vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs will be kept apprised of the status of all emergencies, including what the emergency is, how it began (what caused it), who is involved, if there are injuries, the names of those injured and extent of injuries, what is happening currently, and what help has been summoned. Additionally, information should be given on what is being done to resolve the emergency.
- Employees should be wary of video cameras or photographers, and their coverage of an incident, and should contact the vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs; or the director, marketing and public relations, if media is seen on campus.
- Under no circumstances shall anyone other than the designated spokesperson(s) release the names of victims. The spokesperson(s) shall not release any information about the victims without direct authorization from the crisis management team to ensure family members have been appropriately contacted.
- Family members affected are discouraged from agreeing to provide media with an interview, but if they chose to grant an interview, it is recommended that questions be prescreened. It is recommended that the vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs, the director, marketing and public relations, or a member of the crisis management team be present during interviews with family members to ensure that ground rules are followed and inappropriate questions are not asked of the family members.
The vice chancellor for marketing, public relations, and government affairs will work with the public relations staff to disseminate approved communication to the campus community through the Emergency Notification System, SJC AlertMe, and news releases to the media. The public relations staff will also update the College website and any appropriate social media outlets. It is important to remember that the College website and emergency notification systems are the official form of communication. Students and employees should not rely on media for information during a crisis situation.
VIII. Filming and Photography on Campus
This information is intended to clarify under what circumstances Filming and Photography on any of the San Jacinto College campuses and its properties may be allowed by external entities wishing to use our college campuses or facilities as a backdrop for projects not related to San Jacinto College. This information is principally applicable to all San Jacinto College faculty, staff, affiliates and students and to the Photography and Filming services they may utilize.
The following terms shall be used in the context and for the purposes of this Policy only:
- Campus Image: a still or moving image of San Jacinto College property that can be readily identified by the public as college property by architecture, landmarks, signage, the presence of prominent individuals, the inclusion of logo clothing or athletic uniforms, or any other means.
- College Name and Graphic marks: any use of the college name or any form of the college including the campuses or district office. Graphic marks include the college logo, tagline, advertising campaign, seal, and mascots.
- Filming: the capturing of moving or still images of San Jacinto College property by any means on any media now known or that may be invented in the future including, but not limited to, film, videotape, digital disk or any electronic transmission to another medium or to the Internet.
- Photography: the capturing of still images onto any compatible medium, or posting to the Internet, by any means or devices now known or that may be invented in the future including, but not limited to, film cameras, digital cameras, electronic devices such as personal computers (PC), mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDA), etc.
Filming and Photography will be permitted on San Jacinto College campuses or property leased by the College in accordance with this information and provided that such activity does not interfere with the educational or normal program functions or previously scheduled events of the College and does not pose a security or safety risk. Further, the use or re-use of the Filming or Photography output must not be deemed inconsistent with College values or in violation of the policies of the College. All activities requiring College resources, such as police, grounds restoration, traffic control, parking, and any other College services rendered shall be charged to the user.
a. External Use Filming or Photography
For purposes of this information, External Use shall include Filming or Photography on campus for commercial or non-commercial purposes and for which San Jacinto College will not own the copyright to the work created. No campus images may be used without prior written authorization from the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department. Examples of External Use Filming or Photography include, but are not limited to:
1. Theatrical release, broadcast or print media;
2. Industrial use (e.g., trade show or intra-company, intra-industry use);
3. Editorial use;
4. Public service announcements;
5. Non-San Jacinto College student filming;
b. Internal Use Filming or Photography
For purposes of this information, Internal Use shall include all Filming and/or Photography on any campus which is not incidental for non-commercial use by a San Jacinto College employee or student, or contracted for by a San Jacinto College department or unit and for which San Jacinto College exercises artistic, creative control. Examples of Internal Use include, but are not limited to:
1. Broadcast or print media primarily for San Jacinto College use;
2. San Jacinto College student filming;
3. San Jacinto College academic or departmental broadcast or Webcast.
Departments or units that engage the services of non-College staff (e.g., a commercial photographer or film company) for any Internal Use Filming or Photography must ensure that terms governing the use and re-use of any Campus Images are clearly spelled out in the agreement with each contractor. Departments should pursue all ownership rights and interests in the work created on behalf of the College and paid for with College funds.
c. News Reporting
For purposes of this information, News Reporting is live Filming or Photography and transmission (with or without audio recording) as “active” or “breaking” news, by a qualified news reporting service. All requests for News Reporting should be referred to the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department. News organizations must get verbal permission from the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department before News Reporting can commence.
In most cases, a public relations representative will accompany television news film crews. Any disputes involving News Reporting should be referred to the director, marketing and public relations, for resolution.
d. Incidental, Non-commercial Filming or Photography
No special permission is required for the incidental Filming or Photography by San Jacinto College faculty or staff creating work to be used for non-commercial, educational or administrative purposes provided such incidental Filming or Photography can be done unobtrusively without interrupting campus programs, classes or activities and will not require any special campus services (Campus Police, maintenance, etc.).
In addition, no special permission is required for the incidental, unobtrusive non-commercial Filming or Photography by visitors or tourists to the campus. Any such Filming or Photography may not be used for commercial purposes at any time without the express written permission of the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department.
e. San Jacinto College Identification and Appropriate Use of Campus Images
No identification of San Jacinto College as the location of External Use Filming or Photography will be permitted, except that which has been approved in advance by the Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department. The Department will refer questions of the suitability of proposals or requests that propose the identification of San Jacinto College to the Vice Chancellor for Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs.
The request may be approved when the proposed identification is deemed to be in the College’s interests. Such requests for San Jacinto College identification should clearly specify how the identification will be made and in what subject matter context.
No trademarked icons, images, logos, or widely recognizable landmarks or highly sensitive locations of the College shall be filmed, photographed, or otherwise reproduced for any commercial purposes now or in the future.
San Jacinto College staff and faculty should become familiar with the provisions of this Procedure and avail themselves of appropriate departmental and campus resources in all instances of Filming and Photography on campus. The Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department is ultimately responsible for reviewing all requests for Filming and Photography on Campus.
In general, the following criteria will be evaluated:
- All proposals for Filming or Photography on campus will be evaluated for potential logistics problems and if approved, determine the appropriate facility and services usage;
- Be responsible for obtaining the approval of the authority in direct charge of the facility requested prior to issuing any permit for a specific facility;
- Determine the need for assigning an on-site campus Film Location Manager for Filming activities;
- Ensure that proposed Filming or Photography does not include Campus Images; may grant exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
The Marketing, Public Relations, and Government Affairs Department will:
- Coordinate the securing of permissions on behalf of the requestor once the request has been approved.
- Provide all coordination with other campus entities and services as necessary.
IX. Information for the News Media
News media on campus
We want the media to come visit us. However, in order to ensure the privacy of our students, faculty, staff, and community, we request that all media contact a member of the public relations staff prior to visiting campus. As part of their jobs, our police officers look for vehicles and people who are not authorized to be on campus. If we know a member of the news media is coming, we can notify the police department, and also provide media members with the most convenient parking to maximize your time. In almost all cases, student/faculty interviews and other taping/photography are possible, and a public relations staff member can assist with the arrangements.
We want to talk to you. San Jacinto College faculty and staff are encouraged to share their stories. However, as a member of the news media, you may find it helpful to contact the public relations staff for further background information, or additional experts. Since our expert list is continually updated, we may be able to refer you to an expert who might better serve your needs. We can also assist in making arrangements for on-campus interviews.
College Data or Information
We want you to have the most complete and accurate information. So, if you are looking for data or information about the College, you should call the public relations staff directly.
X. College Photography
The San Jacinto College marketing and public relations staff offers professional photography services for a variety of College uses, focused primarily on promotional purposes and to support news media publicity. Other events or requests – especially those outside of regular office hours, and those that do not support the purpose of the San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department – may not be fulfilled.
San Jacinto College employees may take photos with a camera (cell phone photos are not usually shot at a high resolution suitable for website or print use) and submit them to the marketing and public relations staff for use on the Watercooler or The Exchange. If your department does not have a camera, you may check one out from the marketing, public relations, and government affairs staff.
The priority for marketing and public relations photography services is as follows.
- Board of Trustees
- Chancellor’s Office
- News / Media Requests
- Institutional publications such as: recruiting brochures, About San Jacinto College brochure, College catalog, program / departmental promotional brochures, CareerFocus magazine
- Student organizations / events (as needed for marketing, publication, and promotional purposes)
- Photos for a department’s personal use in memory albums, scrapbooks, presentations
- Requests for which a majority of photos shot will not be used in a publication ad / or media placement
- Photos taken only to give to the subject as a memento
- Studio portraits
Criteria for requesting photography services
The San Jacinto College marketing and public relations staff dedicates its resources to advancing the overall institutional image. The following criteria should be considered when requesting photography service from the department.
- Why is the photography needed and how will it be used?
- Is the photo newsworthy to local, regional, and / or national news?
- How can the subject(s) to be photographed yield the strongest impact? What is the visual trying to be captured?
- Is there potential for multiple uses of the photo (i.e., news release, publication, magazine, etc.)?
- How does the photographic need support the San Jacinto College strategic goals and annual priorities?
Photography requests should be made at least a week in advance. Requests made with less than a week may not be fulfilled. Click here to submit a photography request form.
XI. Social Media Guidelines
San Jacinto College has established guidelines for students, faculty, and staff to consider when establishing a social media online presence. Please see the social media guidelines for employees and students for more information.
San Jacinto College respects the rights of its employees to maintain and interact within the online social media community. Existing policies and guidelines concerning the governance of faculty and staff behavior apply to the College’s social media sites.
Please be aware that employee social media sites are a reflection of College. In keeping with the College’s value of integrity, we remind all employees to “act in ways which instill confidence and trust” in the online community. Any comments made online can be linked back to the College, especially if San Jacinto College is shown as the employer. If an employee wishes to disclose a working relationship with San Jacinto College, employees are requested to include the following disclaimer in their profile:
“I am not authorized to speak on behalf of San Jacinto College and the views expressed on this site are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jacinto College.”
Employees should maintain and respect confidentiality at all times. An employee could become subject to disciplinary action for disclosing confidential or proprietary information about San Jacinto College students, employees, or alumni. Exercise good, ethical judgment and adhere to existing College policies and federal requirements, such as Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). As a general rule, do not post anything on social media regarding the College that would not be OK to present at a conference.
Time and Equipment:
Please respect College time and property by maintaining personal sites when not at the College and using personally owned equipment. It is appropriate to engage in social media in the workplace only if the involvement is directly related to accomplishing College goals.
In response to concerns, complaints, or information provided by individuals, San Jacinto College administrators may view publicly shared profiles on online social networking sites and use the information contained on these sites in informal or formal College proceedings.
Social media is a great way for students to stay connected with fellow students and to find College resources. The following guidelines are designed to help students navigate the social web at San Jacinto College and in life outside the college.
Participate and Connect:
Students are encouraged to ask questions through the College social media sites. College resources are available to help students succeed and social media is a great way to connect to those resources. Be aware that the marketing department does not have access to student records, so questions concerning financial aid, student accounts and academic advising are best left to the experts on campus. For some questions, students may be asked you to contact email@example.com for further assistance - some conversations are better left off our social media sites.
If a student disagrees with someone on social media and wants to state a differing opinion, that student should do so in a respectful manner. If the response includes profanity or attacks someone personally, it will be removed from the official College social media sites without warning. Language that is illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, infringing of intellectual property rights, invasive of privacy, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to any person or entity, or otherwise injurious or objectionable is unacceptable and shall be removed. In some cases, student discipline may be involved. Social media sites are not an appropriate place to talk negatively about classmates or instructors. Students with a situation to report are asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The College will look into submitted complaints. A good rule of thumb for all online communication is to resist posting a comment that would be inappropriate on the front page of a newspaper.
The College Social Media sites are a great place for a student organization to post information about events or any event happening on one of the campuses. Students are encouraged to share pictures from a campus event.
Students are encouraged to utilize social media to connect with friends, family and classmates. Social media provides a great opportunity to connect and engage. The College has posted a social media directory online for a list of San Jacinto College’s social media sites so students can join those that are of interest.
Be careful what you share:
Students should never give out personal information on social media sites such as social security numbers, G number, passwords, PIN numbers, account numbers, address, or phone number. San Jacinto College will never request this type of information from students through a social media site.
You can’t take it back:
Once something is posted in social media, it can’t be taken back. Always remember that social media sites are not “private.” Regardless of privacy settings, connections may share something they see posted online. Before posting, remember that many employers, colleges, and universities are turning to social media sites to help determine admissions and employee selections. Each day there are more court cases utilizing social media sites as supporting evidence. So, please be careful what information is shared online.
San Jacinto College does not monitor the personal social media sites of our students. However, we do monitor the College name (San Jacinto College) and variations of it online. Students may be subject to disciplinary action, as outlined in the San Jacinto College student handbook, based on information posted on social networking sites. San Jacinto College reserves the right to turn cases of serious incidents over to the proper authorities. Examples of this may include, but are not limited to, threats against the College, its students, or employees.
Students should not access social media sites during class times, unless instructed to do so by the professor. Students should limit social media activity on public computers in the open labs during times of high traffic; other students may need the machines to complete course work.